Did you know that where is currently exactly ONE airworthy Boeing B-29 Superfortress in the world? It’s true, and her name is Fifi. Maintained by the Commemorative Air Force, Fifi has been making the rounds at airshows and movie appearances for decades. But a restoration group in Kansas has located and spent the past few years restoring another B-29, named Doc – and Doc will soon be taking to the skies as well.
Doc first rolled off the assembly line in Wichita, Kansas in March of 1944, registered 44-69972. After seeing no action during the war, Doc was assigned to radar calibration duty in the 1950s, in a squadron known as the Seven Dwarfs. Doc towed aerial targets, until being assigned to duty as a bombing target in 1955. Remarkably, Doc survived 42 years as a bombing target largely intact, which perhaps speaks to the design of the aircraft and “Superfortress” moniker. Doc was discovered wasting away in the Mojave desert in 1987, and finally recovered from the desert in 1998. In 2000, Doc was returned to Wichita, Kansas, its original assembly site. The foundation “Doc’s Friends” was formed in 2013, to restore the plane, headed by retired Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner.
Since that time, volunteers have spent thousands of hours restoring Doc. The foundation had hoped to have the B-29 up and running in time for EAA’s Airventure this summer in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where Fifi made an appearance. However, on Friday, Doc’s engines were started successfully for the first time. The restoration group is now currently working to achieve an airworthiness certificate for Docand plans to perform test flights at McConnell Air Force Base, according to Flying.
Between 1943 and 1946, 3,970 B-29s were produced. Two B-29s are famous for ending the Pacific theater of World War II. Enola Gay, callsign “Dimples 82” dropped a Little Boy nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, August 6th, 1945. Three days later, Bockscar released a Fat Man bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Six days after that, Japan’s surrender was announced to the world, over the radio waves.